As a membership site owner wanting to earn revenue from your content, it’s important that your Internet strategy focuses strongly on delivering your content to the maximum number of eyeballs. In this age of social media and with the dominance of sites such as Facebook and Twitter, building a community around your website has grown to become one of the most important ways to drive traffic and keep visitors coming back time and time again.
By engaging with users via the use of comments, forums, polls and multimedia you can increase exposure and the loyalty of your visitors.
Here are some tips that will come in handy in driving visitors to your community:
1. Write For Others
Writing for other websites provides a great opportunity to spread your message to a much larger audience than would otherwise be possible.
Look for other websites and blogs that are aimed at a similar niche or audience to your own and offer to write for them. Remember that your audience will visit plenty of other websites, so try and reach these people by submitting articles to the website they read. Remember to include an author biography that links back to your own membership website, but avoid any shameless self-promotion.
2. Get Mobile
Accessing of the web by mobile users is quickly overtaking access by desktop users.
As traditional websites often fail to work or are hard to use on mobile devices, it is best to treat the mobile Web as a separate entity or ‘channel’.
Example ways of delivering content on the mobile Web include:
– Create a simple mobile membership site of your own or look at getting/syndicating your content onto already popular mobile portals
– Use text messaging to send users your most important updates e.g. ‘article of the day’, with a link to your membership site or mobile site
Delivering your content to mobile devices is ideal if your target audience is either often away from their computer or indeed don’t have a computer.
3. Start Tweeting
Twitter can provide a unique and exciting opportunity to reach and interact with a larger audience.
Some companies or organizations use Twitter as a broadcast tool, using it as an alternative to an RSS feed. An example of this is the likes of the rolling news channels or newspapers, which provide breaking news updates via the service.
However, using Twitter just as a broadcast tool misses its true power, which is to use it as a highly effective way to engage with your followers.
4. Use Facebook
Another option well worth exploring for expanding your reach is Facebook.
Do not be fooled into thinking that Facebook is the exclusive domain of younger Internet users. Over the last year, the number of users between 35 and 54 has jumped by 276%, to over 6 million people.
So, how do you reach your audience on Facebook? Here are a couple of pointers:
– Create your own group. Groups are ideal for engaging with those people who are already interested in your niche, product or service. You can invite people to participate in your group and those people in turn can invite others. This makes Facebook groups ideally suited to viral marketing.
– Create a fan page. Fan pages are basically public profiles for companies and organizations or indeed website entities, rather than individuals. Unlike groups, pages can be seen by non-Facebook users and are indexed by search engines. Fan pages are perfect for building long-term awareness and for reaching people both inside and outside of Facebook.
While Facebook is not the only social network, it does have enormous reach and a good demographic spread, as well as providing some great tools for reaching and engaging with its users.
5. Use Video
These day, content can comprise of not just the written word, what with the widespread use of video content across blogs and websites. Handheld digital camcorders such as the Flip, platforms such as YouTube and applications like Microsoft Movie Maker make recording, editing and hosting incredibly easy.
However, creating popular content is harder than it first appears. If you think that by simply uploading a Powerpoint presentation with a voiceover to YouTube you will generate millions of views, you are sadly mistaken.
Great content has to be engaging, if people are going to watch it and recommend it. With so many thousands of videos uploaded every single day, standing out from the crowd is vital! Be professional and have something to say that others will find informative or enjoyable or even eye opening. Have a look at the most popular videos in your niche to get ideas.
6. Get Streaming
Free services such as Ustream and Qik are all jostling to dominate the streaming space, as it grows to offer an ever more popular alternative or addition to prerecorded video content. This makes the barrier to entry extremely low or non-existant.
The live format has the added benefit of allowing viewers to engage with the presenter (and the presenter with his/her community) in real-time, via chat. This is considerably more powerful that showing pre-recorded video, with static comments enabled.
Finally, live streaming is a great medium for providing online training, either for using your product or for a more general workshop. With live streaming your users can both hear and see what you are doing as well as ask you questions.
7. Last But Not Least… Email
With everything i’ve listed above, it’s very easy to forget the ways in which we have always been able to reach beyond the confines of our blogs and websites.
Email should be a key tool for getting your content in front of your users. If users can subscribe to your content via your RSS feed, then they should be able to also do it via email.
By using services such as Constant Contact, Mailchimp or AWeber this is relatively easy. By you implementing one of these services, users can subscribe to your newsletter in seconds. Use your newsletter to send out links to your articles, post offers or ask your users to take part in surveys.
Once upon a time your website was enough. Now, your membership site needs to be just one small part of your overall Web strategy. Expecting users to come to you is naive. Instead, take your content to them!